Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Green Cove, Clay Utility Pact Results in `Peace in the Valley'

Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Green Cove, Clay Utility Pact Results in `Peace in the Valley'

Article excerpt

The Clay County Utility Authority and the Green Cove Springs

City Council have pulled back from threats of litigation and

settled a long-running territorial dispute over water and sewer

service areas.

On Tuesday, the authority's board of supervisors unanimously

approved an agreement with the city, the same pact the council

signed off on a week earlier.

Verbal pats on the back abounded between the two agencies.

"It is nice to put this issue to rest. It was a tremendous

effort that will benefit the entire community long term," said

City Attorney Jim Arnold. "We appreciate [the authority's]

willingness to work with us . . . We had honest differences;

we've both got systems to protect."

Authority board member Jerry Agresti agreed.

"It took some time for the city and the authority to understand

each other's concerns," he said. "Now there will be peace in the

valley."

City and authority officials praised City Manager Eric Meserve,

authority Executive Director Ray Avery and a mediator -- Clay

County Commissioner Dale Wilson -- for resolving the dispute.

For more than a year, the two boards have been engaged in a

turf battle over which of them would provide water and sewer

service to developing areas just outside the city. There were

high financial stakes for both sides.

The city's ability to repay a 1991 bond issue of over $5.4

million -- since refinanced -- was based on utility revenues it

intended to get from serving areas beyond its corporate limits,

as called for in the city and county comprehensive land use

plans.

The revenue bonds helped build treatment plants with enough

capacity to serve those areas and that capacity -- and

investment -- would be wasted if the city was prevented from

doing so, city officials said.

But authority officials were reluctant to permanently surrender

territory -- and future customers and earnings -- to the city,

even though they were not yet able to serve those areas

themselves. And they said they also wanted to protect the

financial interests of customers in the unincorporated area,

citing the higher rates the city charges customers who live

outside its limits. …

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